Woman calls for improved Toronto police response times after father fatally beaten – Toronto


Melissa Tomas never stopped believing she would be reunited with her dad Joseph Perron, with whom she lost touch more than two decades ago.

But when the 51-year-old man was beaten to death on June 13, she was cheated out of her dream to know her father.

Tomas said Perron had severe schizophrenia and had recently suffered from brain damage. She said she struggled over the years to find her dad, who lived in Nova Scotia, but had recently returned to Ontario.

Toronto police response time under fire after Parkdale murder scene left unattended

Perron was allegedly killed by a complete stranger on West Lodge Avenue, just a kilometre from the rooming house where he lived. His daughter says Perron became disoriented and ended up in a field behind a building where he was attacked. Raymond Moore, 42, has been charged with second degree murder.

About a week after Perron’s murder, the Oshawa woman says she received a message from a Toronto police officer through Facebook, asking her if she was related to the 51-year-old.

“He messaged me that my name had come up in an investigation. So I called and that’s when I found out that my father had been murdered due to an extreme beating and died from internal bleeding for his spleen,” she said.

“That’s a horrible beating. A long process, to go through a beating, to die of such serious injuries.”

A short time later, Tomas says she learned more about her father’s death. After seeing a story on the Global News website, she found out that it took officers hours to respond to the crime scene.

Toronto police chief defends response time after murder scene left unattended for hours

So she started pushing for answers, and now, after months of trying to speak to police about the case, she has finally met with the superintendent in charge of 11 Division, Heinz Kuck; the detective in charge of her father’s case, Kathy Stephenson; and the crown attorney assigned to the case, Michael Callaghan.

“I found out that the police just did not attend his crime scene for an exponential time. I don’t understand how no one was available,” said an exasperated Tomas, after meeting with officials for about an hour. “They can say that they only have eight police cars at a time, but wow, honestly, that’s ludicrous.

“I don’t understand how they can’t break one officer off to stop an assault in progress, which turned into a murder, I honestly hope that never happens again.”

WATCH: Toronto’s deadliest year on record: A look back at homicides that happened in 2018

She also says it took paramedics about 45 minutes to arrive and police officers did not attend the crime scene for four to five hours, only returning to the scene with paramedics after eventually going to the hospital where Perron died.

“I don’t feel like my father would have died if an officer had shown up in time to stop this beating,” Tomas said.

‘This is a crisis’: Toronto police union targets mayor, police officials in ad over staffing

A few days after the fatal beating, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders acknowledged that a review was underway into the handling of the case.

“We will look to see what we can do to better any call,” Saunders said. “But to be clear, to isolate and cherry-pick a call and say, ‘That’s the Toronto police,’ it’s inflammatory. It’s wrong.”

The investigation is now complete. “The issues we were concerned about in June, regarding deployment of resources and consideration of other calls for service,” wrote Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray in an email to Global News, “were substantiated by that review.”

Tomas says she has also filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

“I believe that if the police had arrived to break up the assault in progress, then my father would not have been beaten to death,” she wrote on the complaint form.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Inquest jury can’t decide how Brydon Whitstone came to be fatally shot by RCMP officer


A coroner’s inquest jury that heard details all week about the death of Brydon Whitstone couldn’t decide how the 22-year-old came to be fatally shot by a Saskatchewan RCMP officer.

The six-person jury announced its finding Friday after spending the week in a courtroom at Battlefords Court of Queen’s Bench hearing testimony about Whitstone’s death. Jurors could have found Whitstone’s death was a homicide or a suicide, among other options. They chose neither.

Whitstone, a 22-year-old man from Onion Lake Cree Nation, was shot by an RCMP officer in North Battleford, Sask., on Oct. 21, 2017. Whitstone had led officers on a high-speed chase, during which he collided with two RCMP vehicles. He then refused to exit his car even as officers surrounded him and shouted orders to surrender. 

One of those officers shot Whitstone. That officer, Const. Jerry Abbott, testified this week that he had thought Whitstone was reaching for a gun.  

The coroner’s inquest into Whitstone’s death began Monday. 

The jury made one recommendation along with its finding:

« Use of Taser gun or other intervention to immobilize or stun the suspect first prior to the use of a gun. »

Saskatchewan RCMP offered condolences to Whitstone’s family in a news release Friday afternoon.

« The Saskatchewan RCMP is grateful to the jury members for their work this week and extends a sincere thank you for their efforts, » RCMP said.

The release said RCMP would review the jury’s recommendation and provide a written response, which would then be published on the Saskatchewan Coroners Service website.

Family wants case reopened

Abbott’s shooting of Whitstone was investigated by Regina Police Service.

Lawyer Stephanie Lavallee said Whitstone’s family wants the case reopened by an « independent » investigative body, perhaps even one with Indigenous participation, her co-worker Mark Ebert said. Saskatchewan has no such body. 

« What we’ve seen over this past week gives us pause, » said Lavallee. « We note that several officers who testified at the inquest provided corrections to the evidence they originally gave to Regina police investigators.

« At least in one incident, such a correction was due to speaking to another officer involved in this incident but who did not appear in this inquest as a witness. »    

The jury

The jury was made up of six people: four women, two men. Three of the jurors came from a pool of self-identifying First Nations people. The rest were drawn from the general public. 

The group knew fairly early that Whitstone died from two gunshot wounds fired near his heart by Const. Abbott. 

The key question the jurors were asked Friday was how they thought Whitstone came to be shot. They had five choices: suicide, homicide, accidental, natural and « undetermined. »

The jurors heard mixed evidence about Whitstone voicing suicidal thoughts before his altercation with RCMP. 

1 question from jurors during proceedings

The jury had only one question during four days of testimony from 16 witnesses.

Late in the proceedings, a male juror asked about a move made by Const. Marco Johnson, a large man, during the frantic two minutes leading to the shooting.

Johnson had testified he grabbed an uncooperative Whitstone by the left arm and bent the arm along the side of the vehicle, in an attempt to pry Whitstone out of the vehicle.

« Do you think, given the facts, [that move] was appropriate if nobody was seeing a gun? » the juror asked.

« I would assume so, yes, » said Sgt. Pernell St. Pierre, the most senior officer on the scene that night. 

Abbott testified that he yelled out that Whitstone was reaching for a gun, but never actually saw a gun. 

RCMP camera not filming

Jurors also heard that one of two in-car RCMP cameras in the area that night did not record either the pursuit or the shooting.

The officer in that car, Garrett Dove, said he had not been trained in how to clear his camera’s hard drive, which was full at the time, so that it could record the night’s events. He and other officers who now have the WatchGuard cameras in their vehicles testified they are now trained to clear the hard drive.

The officer who initially pursued Whitstone did have a camera recording. It captured part of the altercation at the intersection, but from a distance. It appeared to show one person standing on each side of Whitstone’s car.

Saskatchewan’s « F » Division is the only division to have the cameras, the RCMP said earlier this week. 


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Toronto teen was attending party at industrial property in Hamilton when fatally shot


Natshon Defreitas was attending a party being held in the garage of an industrial property in Hamilton when he was fatally shot.

Now Hamilton police are trying to piece together what was happening at that party and why the 19-year-old unarmed Toronto man was targeted, said Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk.

Natshon Defreitas, 19, was shot and killed on Sunday morning in Hamilton.
Natshon Defreitas, 19, was shot and killed on Sunday morning in Hamilton.  (GoFundMe)

Police were called to the shooting at 470 Beach Rd., a one-storey industrial building at the corner of Martimas Ave., for a shooting around 4:15 a.m. Sunday. But before police arrived, other party goers pulled the dying Defreitas into a pickup truck to try to race him to hospital.

On the way they saw a fire truck at another call and stopped at Ottawa St. N. and Dalhousie Ave., where he was transferred into an ambulance and taken to the Hamilton General Hospital. He was pronounced dead in hospital around 6 a.m.

An autopsy confirmed he died of a gunshot wound.

Police have not said how many shots are believed to have been fired and where on the property Defreitas was shot.

Police have also not released any description of the suspected shooter, but Bereziuk said detectives believe it was likely a single shooter. Police also do not yet know the motive.

The 19-year-old was described as being a charismatic and likable guy, in a statement from the family, provided through police. He enjoyed sports, track and field and loved to dance.

A GoFundMe account titled “Natshon Defreitas” has been set up by his stepmother, Sherrie Biggley, to cover some funeral expenses. They are asking for $2,500 and had raised more than $1,800 by Tuesday afternoon.

Police say the party was being held in a garage at the property, where alcohol was being served. Between 35 and 50 people were in attendance.

The group involved a mix of people from Hamilton and out of town, and invitations to the party, which Bereziuk described as “low key,” had been shared on social media.

A neighbour told The Hamilton Spectator a group had also gathered at that address the night before. However, it was not known to police and there was no record of noise complaints.

Bereziuk said the owner of the property rented the space out to an individual who hosted the party.

When reached by The Spectator, the building owner said he rented the space to a business but declined to identify to whom and how long they had been there. As far as he knows, parties have not occurred on the premises before.

“I have no idea what happened,” he said. “I wasn’t there.”

On Monday, police forensics officers continued to process the scene, with police tape blocking access to it as detectives interviewed witnesses and began to go through surveillance video of the area.

Defreitas was known to Toronto police, with whom Bereziuk said he will be speaking.

The witnesses police have spoken with have been co-operative, but Bereziuk said he knows there are likely more witnesses from whom police would like to hear.

This is the 22nd shooting in Hamilton this year, and the sixth homicide.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Andrew Coughlan by calling 905-546-3874. To remain anonymous contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or crimestoppershamilton.com.

With files from Natalie Paddon

Nicole O’Reilly is a reporter with the Hamilton Spectator. Email: noreilly@thespec.com.


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